March Madness Munchies

The brackets are set.  You’ve picked your teams. You know the networks and times for the must-watch match-ups.

Now that you’ve got everything ready for watching your favorite college BB teams, it’s…SNACK TIME!

Snacks and March Madness go together like Duke Basketball and Coach K. Problem is, our all-time favorite salty snacks—potato, tortilla and pita chips—can pack a hefty calorie punch for their puny serving sizes.

In fact, some gourmet chips can pack more than 250 calories and 15 grams of fat per ounce. The good news, however, is that snack food makers have a variety of new healthier chips that cut fat and calories, pump up the protein and fiber while trying to maintain serious taste and crunch. I went on a mission to gather a bunch of the better-for-you chip options and had my husband, Craig, taste-test them all. (I know, it’s hard being a dietitian’s husband.) We narrowed them down to those that had good nutritionals and great taste.

For March Madness, use our guide to America’s All-Star snack chips.

Best Potato Chips

Since potato chips are America’s snack of choice, let’s start with the best options. The swap to baked or popped will shave at least 20% of the calories and anywhere from 25-50 percent of the fat.

Just so you know, Craig is a “Kiwi dude” so that means he doesn’t eat “diet” food. The potato chips that passed the man-test included PopchipsKettle, Cape Cod and Corazonas. These were also the ones that are made from sliced whole potatoes rather than the Pringle-ish options that are made from dehydrated potato.  An added benefit of Corazonas is that they contain .4 mg plant sterols, which naturally help to lower cholesterol.

Tasty Tortilla Chips

Tortilla chips tend to have slightly fewer calories and more fiber and less fat than potato chips. They come in a wide variety of options like white, yellow, blue and multigrain.  The unhealthiest varieties are usually the white or yellow “restaurant-style” options that are glistening with oil.

While some baked tortilla chips can be “cardboardy,” the ones that fared best with the dude-test included Food Should Taste Good, Lundberg and Corazonas.


Pita Chip PicksAthenos Pita Chip Bag

A newer chip category that is less popular—but deserves more attention—from spectators is pita chips. Pita chips are always baked so they naturally have less calories and fat than fried chips. However, they have higher amounts of sodium than most other chips. My man-snacker liked Athenos and Stacy’s best but would eat them only with hummus, bean dip or salsa—not plain.




All-Star Snack Chips Calories Fat (gram) Sat Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg)
Potato Chips
Baked Lays Barbecue Potato Crisps* 120 3 .5 2 2 210
Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips 120 3 .5 2 2 210
Baked Ruffles Original Potato Crisps 120 3 0 2 2 290
Pop Chips Barbeque 120 4 0 1 1 250
Cape Cod 40% Reduced Fat Potato Chips 130 6 1 2 1 110
Cape Cod 40% Reduced Fat Sea Salt & Vinegar 130 6 1 2 2 220
Corazonas** Lightly Salted Potato chips 130 6 .5 3 2 90
Tortilla Chips
Garden of Eatin’ Baked Blue Chips 120 3 1 3 3 120
Guiltless Gourmet Spicy Black Bean Tortilla Chips 120 3 0 3 2 200
Tostitos Baked Scoops! 120 3 .5 2 2 125
Corazonas** Squeeze of Lime Tortilla Chips 140 7 .5 2 3 140
Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips 140 6 .5 3 3 80
Lundberg Rice Chips Fiesta Lime 140 7 .5 2 1 270
Pita Chips and Bagel Crisps
Athenos Whole Wheat Baked Pita Chips 120 4 0 4 2 270
NY Style Multigrain Bagel Crisps 130 5 2.5 3 1 340
Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips 130 5 .5 3 1 270
NY Style Sea Salt Pita Chips 140 6 3 3 1 350

*These are made from dehydrated potatoes and have a Pringles-like texture rather than a sliced potato

**Contains cholesterol-lowering plant sterols.


  1. says

    I love chips, but don’t buy them very often, because of the sodium.
    The first thing I check (after checking for wheat) is the sodium. Then I check the fat.

  2. sherry warlick says

    I love the “Kettle Chips”. Would like to try the pita chips also. I try to stay away from traditional chips because of the fat and calories.

  3. kimberly Masseau says

    Thank you for this article………and what a handy dandy comparison chart to print out and keep handy!!!

  4. Jenefer Lynn says

    this is a great article, not just for March Madness but just for my munching needs :) We love Food Should Taste Good, glad to see them on here :)


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